1. Do I need a converter if you have the cable company box, VCR or a cable-ready TV?
Yes you do. In order to establish a non- addressable system, it is essential to have a converter. A cable ready TV, VCR and a Cable Company box do not provide for this feature and in not doing so, cannot replace a converter. You must have a converter to use a descrambler. This is especially true if you desire a converter / descrambler that cannot be altered or addressed by your cable company.
2. Are all descramblers and converters alike?
No. Prices can range from $15 to $400 depending on the quality and amount of features included in the equipment. Some companies offer to sell you a description of how you can build (implied), with only 7 parts from radio shack, a descrambler. Some sell old converters and descramblers that are barely in date and likely to be replaced by the cable companies by higher technological grades of equipment Some cable box sellers provide systems that hardly provide any benefit to the purchaser where the quality of reception is poor, without recourse. State-of-the-art cable box companies will provide the most recent technology in a variety of packages tailored to fit the customers budget. They should provide two-piece systems, refurbished RAN baseband boxes in conjunction with the latest tech versions. Of course, you get what you pay for. But there are reasonable values out there.
3. Are cable descramblers legal?
YES! Descramblers are legal. If your cable TV company can possess & rent the box to you then you can own the box yourself. An example in time would be when AT&T rented telephones to consumers. The federal government directed that it was legal for consumers to own their own phone. Now you wouldnt consider buying only from AT&T. The cable TV industry is in its early stages is relative to this development. It is legal for you to purchase and it is legal for you to own. When you buy a cable box it is your responsibility to inform the cable TV company that you are accessing their signal. It is illegal to receive their transmission without paying for it. This holds true even if your cable box is purchased as a non-addressable non-detectable, and "bullet proof" unit.
4. Which descrambler is best for me?
You have two choices when purchasing your cable equipment, a single-unit (one-piece) system or a system containing two units (two-piece). Combination box advantages: The one-piece system is based on a combination of converter and a descrambler, installed in a single box. This unit is referred to as a combination unit. The pluses: Easy to hook up, Available in both generic or name brand , similar to systems used by cable companies. Separate component advantages: The two-piece systems is based on two separate units, A converter and a descrambler, that are connected together and function as one-piece system. The pluses: lower cost, components can be individually upgraded, and interchangeable components.
We recommend one piece units. It has been our experience that one piece units work better to replace your cable companys converter than a 2-piece unit. Although 2-piece units tend to be less expensive, they tend to work less efficiently as well. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for! " Additionally, our 1-piece units cost less than other companies 2-piece units.
5. What is a cable converter / descrambler?
An electronic tuning device that transposes all available channels from the cable company into either channel 3 or channel 4. A converter is simply a "channel changer" that cannot by itself descramble encoded premium channels. It allows you to receive all basic channels if your TV is not the cable ready type. When you add a descrambler to your converter, it allows you to view all premium channels.
6. What is a descrambler?
A descrambler is a device that restores the picture and sound of a scrambled channel. A descrambler must be used with a converter (in a two piece configuration) to be able to descramble all the premium channels of a cable system.
7. What is a converter-descrambler?
A single (one piece) unit capable of descrambling premium channels. This unit contains a converter and a descrambler, enclosed in a common box. This is also the most common type of equipment supplied by the cable company to subscribing customers. Customers usually pay a specified monthly rental fee for such equipment.
8. What is an addressable converter-descrambler?
This is a converter-descrambler that can be controlled by the cable company from their office location. Through remote coded messages sent via the cable system, the cable company can "address" the customers unit to begin descrambling selected premium or pay per view channels. An addressable unit allows the cable company to access your cable box to change the descrambling configuration or program. This function provides the cable company the ability to add or delete descrambling on the channels that come in through your cable line. A non-addressable unit does not provide the cable company access to the cable box program. The program remains stationary and is unchangeable. Both cable box designs have the potential of receiving all channels, none or somewhere in between dependent on the box program.
9. Cable terms: Basic cable, Premium cable, Pay-Per-View services?
Basic cable service: the least expensive cable service provided by cable companies to their customers. This service usually includes local TV channels which can be received directly from the broadcast signal of the TV stations. Premium cable service: additional programming service provided by the cable company to subscribing customers. The extra fee for such additional service may be based on per channel, per group of channels , or any other combination of channels. Pay per view: selected channels that offer movies and special events such as sports or adult entertainment, for an additional fee, on a per movie or per program basis. A special "addressable " converter is furnished by the cable company to subscribers of this service. Through the use of special equipment, the cable company can "address" the customers converter to descramble the program for which the fee was paid.
10. Can your descrambler work anywhere?
NO. Descramblers are specific to each cable system. Different cable companies use different cable systems, characterized by manufacturers brand name and model number. You must use a compatible descrambler that works in your area, but it may not work in a different area.
11. What do you do if your converter / descrambler doesn't work?
Call your Converter / Descrambler box source . Let them know that there are problems. Most companies want to correct any problems you are having . If you are working with a customer oriented company , they will work diligently or remedy your problem . Dont just let it go . They will want a satisfied customer who will refer them additional business . The company may not have a quick answer for about 5% of the problems out there. Be patient and work with your cable box company until you find the right Converter / Descrambler box for your area. Sometimes technology changes for your area and the source may need to do some additional research to get the desired image. Do this before the warranty / guarantee has run out. Even then there may be a solution.
12. How can you improve the quality of your converter / descrambler reception?
Amplification may be needed to correct the problem . Whenever a cable signal is split between two or more TVs or routed to some other video components such as VCRs , the signal weakens and produces a poor quality picture. The weak signal may cause a "snowy" or gray picture, or may even result in weak color or lack of color. Since most cable viewers use several different video components, it is recommended that an amplifier be used to restore the signal strength and the picture sharpens. In most cases, the amplifier brings the picture " back to life " and restores its original quality. Consider using a 10db amplifier to improve signal strength.
13. What happens when there isn't a replacement for your cable company box?
Most descrambler sources will carry the common brands such as Jerrold or General Instruments, Pioneer, Scientific Atlanta, Oak, Tocom and Zenith. When your company doesnt carry your brand then you need to find out if they either have it in stock or have a source for your uncommon make and model. Usually the source has another outlet or may need to do research on your request
14. What are "bullets"?
The terms "bullets" is very misleading and has grown way out of control in this industry. Cable companies transmit data - this is how all addressable cable systems work. Both cable companies and cable dealers alike use the term "bullet" to describe this transmission of data . Bullets are nothing more than transmitted signal which affects the cable box program. It does not fry the guts of the equipment but rather may shut the box off temporarily, reprogram the box, or shut the box down in an error mode . The box can easily be reset by unplugging it for 15min. This will allow the unit to reset and correct any error that has occurred.
15. How do you determine the replacement for your cable box?
1) Get the brand name and model of the converter / descrambler unit that was supplied to you by your cable company. The brand name is located on the front of the box. The model # is located on the bottom of the box on the tag.
2) Look at the companies list of cable box products and their corresponding replacement description (your equipment model number) in their catalog. From this you can determine what you will need or consult in conjunction with your cable box source for the right replacement.
16. How can you tell if you're dealing with a professional descrambler company?
First, of course, trust your own judgment. A company you can trust will be one that has at least a 30 day guarantee, and a 90 day warranty on their products. Offers of variety of equipment for most areas of the country and some areas of the world. The company will have the capability of delivering your equipment day air, 4 day ground, international, or other if agreed upon. The staff will be capable of answering most technical questions.
17. What if my cable company upgrades or changes to a different converter?All cable companies eventually upgrade-as technology progresses and new sources become available older equipment becomes obsolete. The fact is that cable companies do not change quickly or often. It is a huge expense for cable company to swap out all of its customers converters and replace them with brand new ones and upgrade the system to support the new scrambling methods. It usually takes a cable company a year or longer to complete an upgrade. Most cable companies upgrade every 10-15 years.